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Army Commander highlights value of SLA’s overseas duties which bring pride and honour to SL

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In his address to SLAMC leaving for South Sudan on Peace-Keeping Mission

South Sudan bound 7th Army Contingent salutes Army Chief at SLAMC Regimental HQ

The 7th contingent of the Sri Lanka Army Medical Corps (SLAMC), bound for United Nations Peace-Keeping Mission in South Sudan’s Level-2 Hospital (UNMISS), on the eve of their departure, presented a ceremonial salute to Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva, Chief of Defence Staff, Commander of the Army and Head, National Operations Centre for Prevention of COVID-19 Outbreak (NOCPCO) at the SLAMC Regimental Headquarters at Werahera.

The Army Commander was welcomed by Brigadier Upul Weerakoon, Centre Commandant at the SLAMC Regimental HQ, and was invited to review the Guard Turnout presented by SLAMC troops.

After the chief guest was welcomed by Brigadier Krishantha Fernando, Colonel Commandant of the SLAMC and Director-General of the Army Health Services, he was invited to the parade ground, where the parade commander invited him to review the Guard of Honour accorded on his behalf.

Symbolic of the importance of the day’s event, Lt. Gen. Shavendra Silva formally handed over the National flag, Army flag, United Nations flag and the Sri Lanka Army Medical Corps flag to the contingent.

The 6th Sri Lankan contingent already serving the UN assignment in South Sudan is expected to return home shortly after completing their tenure of service in accordance with the provisions of the UN.

The South Sudan bound 7th contingent, commanded by Colonel Roshan Jayamanna, consists of four Medical Specialists, four Medical Officers and a Dentist, a Commanding Officer, seven Administrative Officers, 41 SLAMC Other Ranks including Ward-In-charge, nurses, critical care nurses (gynecological), operation theatre technician, Physiotherapist (DPM), radiographer, X-ray technician, SMO/MPH (ECG), dental assistant, dental technician, medical storeman, pharmacist, pharmacy technician, lab technician, lab technologists, CSM, CQMS, hygiene assistant, admin. clerk, cooks, ambulance drivers, sanitary duty man, mortuary attendant and nine Other Ranks from the Sri Lanka Signal Corps, Corps of Engineer Service and the Sri Lanka Army Service Corps.

Extending his best wishes, the Army Chief, after the ceremonial parade, addressed the contingent and highlighted the value of their overseas duties, bringing pride and honour to the country. He also reminded them of the importance of maintaining the highest level of discipline, while serving and their commitment to the role and tasks in South Sudan.

Senior Officers including Major-General Duminda Sirinaga, Deputy Chief of Staff, Principal Staff Officers, Directors, Center Commandant of SLAMC, Senior Officer, Officers and Other Ranks were present.

The UNMISS, headed by a Special Representative of the Secretary-General, has deployed thousands of blue helmets, comprising military personnel, Policemen and Civil Staffers in strife-torn South Sudan with the objective of restoring peace in the country.

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Covid-19 vaccination programme: MPs not in priority group; President, armed forces chiefs in ‘third category’ 

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By Shamindra Ferdinando

State Minister for Primary Health Care, Epidemics and COVID Disease Control, Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle yesterday (25) said that members of Parliament were not among those categorised as priority groups expected to be vaccinated against the Covid-19 pandemic.

Dr. Fernandopulle said so in response to The Island query whether parliamentarians would receive the vaccine scheduled to be delivered by India this week. Asked to explain, Dr. Fernandopulle said that health workers, armed forces and law enforcement personnel engaged in Covid-19 prevention operations would be given priority.

“Lawmakers haven’t been listed under priority groups. However, some members may get the vaccine if they are accommodated in the over 60 years category and those suffering from diabetes, heart disease, cancer et al,” the State minister said.

In addition to State Minister Dayasiri Jayasekera, several lawmakers, representing both the government and the Opposition had been afflicted over the past several weeks. SLPP lawmaker Wasantha Yapa Bandara (Kandy district) is the latest victim. Health minister Pavitradevi Wanniarachchi was among over half a dozen lawmakers tested positive.

Army Commander General Shavendra Silva told Derana yesterday morning Sri Lanka would receive approximately 500,000 to 600,000 doses from India. Responding to a spate of questions from Derana anchor Sanka Amarjith, Gen. Silva explained the measures taken by the government to ensure a smooth vaccination programme. The Army Chief who also functions as the Chief of Defence Staff revealed India had paid for the consignment obtained from the UK.

Later in the day, The Island sought an explanation from the Army Chief regarding the President, Service Commanders, Secretary Defence given the vaccination along with frontline health workers et al, the celebrated battlefield commander said: “Will be in third priority group.”

Asked whether the student population would be accommodated at an early stage of the vaccination programme, Dr. Fernandopulle said that those under 18 years of age, pregnant and lactating mothers wouldn’t be included at all as such groups hadn’t been subjected to trials. Education Secretary Prof. Kapila Perera wasn’t available for comment.

Dr. Fernandopulle emphasized the pivotal importance of following health guidelines strictly in spite of the launch of the vaccination programme. “We shouldn’t lower our guard under any circumstances,” Dr. Fernandopulle said, urging the population to be mindful of those unable to receive the vaccination due to no fault of theirs. As those under 18 years of age had been left out of the vaccination programme, a substantial section of the population would be denied the protection, the State Minister said.

Sri Lanka is also expected to procure vaccines from China and Russia in addition to the doses from India. Health Secretary Maj. Gen. Sanjeewa Munasinghe wasn’t available for comment.

Sri Lanka launches the vaccination programme with the total number of positive cases nearing 60,000 with nearly 50,000 recoveries. The government recently re-opened the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) following a pilot programme that brought over 1,200 Ukrainians in dozen flights through the Mattala International Airport.

Dr. Fernandopulle said that the government was ready to launch the vaccination programme as soon as the first consignment arrived from India.

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Tennis balls filled with drugs thrown into Kandakadu Covid-19 treatment centre

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By Norman Palihawadane

Two tennis balls filled with drugs had been thrown into the Covid-19 treatment centre at Kandakadu, Police Spokesperson DIG Ajith Rohana said.

The contraband was found on Saturday by the Army officers attached to the facility.

DIG Rohana said the two tennis balls containing cannabis, heroin and tobacco, had been handed over to the Welikanda Police.

A special investigation has been launched into the incident, the Police Spokesperson said. Such incidents had been previously reported from Welikada, Negombo and other prisons, but it was the first time contraband containing narcotics had been thrown into a Covid-19 treatment centre, he added.

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All cargo clearances at Colombo port now through electronic payments

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The Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) has introduced a system where payment for imports could be made via the Internet. This allows port users to make payments from their homes or offices to clear goods from the Port of Colombo.

The SLPA has said in a media statement that the new special facility will enable port users to make their port payments easily without hassle.

At present, all terminals of the Port of Colombo are run according to a strategic crisis management plan.

 

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